40. The National - Don't Swallow the Cap
“Don’t Swallow the Cap” has all the baritone sentimental value of The National in one five minute song. It was released as a promotional single in Europe, then later in the States, and you can see why The National picked this as their grabber. The lyrics flow well, as Matt Berninger sings so smoothly, with pace, and with passion. This is The National at their best, and “Don’t Swallow the Cap” drowns the listener in sorrow, within an album of pure sadness. Trouble Will Find Me is one unitary piece of inner reflection from start to finish, but it’s “Don’t Swallow the Cap” that leads.
39. Braids – Amends
Braids’ Flourish // Perish and its album cover can only be described as magnificent. It’s one of the few 2013 albums where the album cover defies the actual music of the respect it deserves. “Amends” is a minimalistic house track, one which borders the realm Four Tet. Braids’ debut album Native Speaker was an incredible album, with dream pop (thanks to the) guitar progressions. Braids left this aspect at the studio door when they came to record Flourish // Perish, and “Amends” is the single that was supposed to gain a following. It’s difficult to move on from a genre so reliant on guitars, but Braids understand their future, their career choice, and are playing to that with Flourish // Perish, with “Amends” being the instrumental difference from “Lemonade” and Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s vocals. Read our track review of “Amends”.
38. Boards Of Canada - Reach For The Dead
If Music Has The Right... came about like a dazed recalling of younger days, and Geogaddi a distinctly coherent stimuli of more abrupt fields of view, Harvest's "Reach For The Dead" appears like an invasive wake-up call to resume real-World acceptance. There remained that typically BoC-esque swirl of the real and the unreal within the track's mirage-like flicker of synthesizers and bass. But as it slowly emerged from out the baroness, Reach For The Dead's dazed recollect soon dissipated into a stronger emphasis on rhythm and pace - the track leading further into the album's looming themes of once nimble childish folly, now confined to long-lost, hopeful recollection.
37. HAIM - The Wire
HAIM’s debut album Days Are Gone may have been incredibly average at face value, but the third track “The Wire” stands out as the single, and as the best track on their debut. Forget the nonsense and non-single tracks that fail to live up to the singles reputation, because HAIM are all about “The Wire” and their continued success on British radio with it. It has brilliant string jabs, and a great structure. It doesn’t lack in quality like some tracks from Days Are Gone, giving it a complete feel – rightfully making it on this Top 50 Singles list.
36. The Fall - Sir William Wray
Mark E. Smith’s nonsensical vocals are an attraction. It’s Smith’s poetry that sits above the post-punk recordings of The Fall that make singles like “Sir William Wray” accessible. Smith’s not speaking clearly, and the structure of delivery is far from popular. But the guitar riff and synthesizer accompaniment are surely, one of the most accessible, and welcoming for years – in terms of The Fall years. “Sir William Wray” dictates a distorted vocal with Smith’s typical screeches and repetition of certain words. The guitars add the extra bite, giving this single a slot on our 2013 list.
35. Franz Ferdinand - Evil Eye
Of all the swagger-fuelled surveying of working class ruptures, no track had provided as much sinister groove and flair as Franz Ferdinand’s Evil Eye. For a track that intently disregarding complex or deep-diving analogies, with thanks to Alex Kapranos’ colourful dynamics and the band’s jagged staccato guitars, Evil Eye’s sharp and witty narrative provided a dire scenario with hefty amounts of character. And while the album continued to show resurgences for the Scottish four-piece, no place-holder for Ferdinand’s luxuriously comical social scenery was as strong or as captivating as this.
34. Bibio - À tout à l'heure
While his foot may be unjustly pushed into the frame of IDM by many outside on-lookers, Bibio’s saving grace remains his past exploration of more acoustic and organic instrumentation alongside the genre’s recognizably experimental mind-openers into production and atmosphere. "À tout à l'heure" provided us with the best of both Worlds in a piece that from the off gave a warming, child-like innocence in its sun-glazing guitar strings and optimistically bright synth hooks. But it was beside Stephen Wilkinson’s own delightfully enveloping vocals and the track’s blurred bliss, which helped the song’s cause for relaxed reflection a fitting summer snippet.
33. Machinedrum - Gunshotta
Footwork, and bass-orientated music to that effect, is a difficult sub-field to impose conceptualization let alone conviction in compelling its listener to remain attached to. But on Gunshotta, Travis Stewart’s most conceptual album to date, begins impressively provocative and engaging. With its melodic tension of sampled vocals, hip-hop crazed beats and the track’s overall, mounting level of uncertainty, the emotions and vibes slowly unravelling reveal a darker and volatile underbelly to the imagined locale Gunshotta represents. A ballad to the multitude of inner-city estates Worldwide, it is the perfect surmise to many a suburban stand-off.
32. Low - Plastic Cup
Low’s laconic and unique style has been well known for over 20 years now. The trio, at its core stems from the chilling harmonies between leads Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. "Plastic Cup" goes along with everything they’ve developed since their roots in the early 90s. It’s haunting and slow- an absolutely terrific single. While its lyrical content is pretty simplistic (following the story of a plastic cup from its usage for drug testing to being fossilised and dug up and deemed sacramental), the song itself is enormous in every way and the atmosphere of the track is so superb that its lyrics don’t matter in the slightest. For Low to be putting out a tune this good, after 10 LPs, it doesn’t seem like there is any stopping them anytime soon.
31. Gold Panda - Brazil
Gold Panda knows how to utilise repetition. “Brazil” is the bastard child of Gold Panda’s use of sampling to create vivid atmospheres of night time escapism. It’s not overly complex, although the use of repetition and the beat make for a fantastic unconventional electronic track that’s both glitch and ambient. To me, “Brazil” is a welcomed return to Gold Panda’s older, more left-field recordings, and his album Half of Where You Live needed “Brazil”. It’s very much alike Braids’ new sound (Braids most likely took some of their deep electronica from the beats of Gold Panda / Four Tet’s past.) – Read our track review of “Brazil”.